D. John Bray: I prefer dandelions over a perfect lawn - The Buffalo News
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D. John Bray: I prefer dandelions over a perfect lawn

Not being an avid gardener or lover of cutting the grass, I wondered who came up with the requirement that we all have a green lawn around our home. Why not weeds and dandelions?

Weeds and dandelions, with pretty yellow flowers, grow without any trouble at all. We all know you cannot kill weeds. They return year after year, looking better than before, so they should be the “lawn” instead of infernal grass. Who wouldn’t like a nice, maintenance-free green and yellow lawn?

At one time, lawns were the purview of only the wealthy who had grounds keepers. (Today they are called “lawn services.”) Other folk had sheep or cattle to keep the lawns maintained. The homes of the common folks had packed dirt or a garden just outside the front door, which sounds good to me.

So who came along wanting a grass that would be suitable for the various U.S. climates? The U.S. Golf Association, that’s who. It shares the blame. It pressured the U.S. Department of Agriculture – probably composed of all golfers – to find the right mixture of grass seed, under the guise of “it will beautify America,” but really so they could have a good game of golf.

Well, the USDA came up with some good grass (no pun intended) and the next thing you know, we are planting these seeds all around the house.

At first the average homeowner was not keen on having grass or a front lawn. We can directly blame what was then called the American Garden Club, now the Garden Club of America.

“Through contests and other forms of publicity, they convinced homeowners that it was their civic duty to maintain a beautiful and healthy lawn,” according to “The History of Lawns in America.” And, “It should be a plot with a single type of grass with no intruding weeds, kept mown at a height of an inch and a half, uniformly green, and neatly edged.” An inch and a half? Spare me.

This is what started us down the path of lawn care. A club, with, I am sure, no guys in it.

On top of that, some guy named Ed over in England came up with the lawn mower, encouraging folks to grow grass so they could then cut it. Think about this; it makes no sense. Where is the packed dirt of old?

Grass is flourishing, as is a billion-dollar industry of things to make your grass grow – fertilizers, pesticides, seeds of every stripe – and a whole array of tools designed to maintain your grass. Lawn mowers, water hoses, edgers, ornaments, statues, spinning wheels, flashing lights and yes, flamingoes, are a really big business.

Not to mention the personal time involved. Some folks spend almost an entire day of their weekend cutting and taking care of their grass. I mean, our civilization has come to this? We have all forms of technology and we are out in the yard cutting grass?

At least the golfers among us are out playing on the grass, after they cut their own.

Of course, with all that’s available concerning grass, there are those who love to discuss what they are doing to their lawn. “Well, Joe, I have my mower blades sharpened once a month to get a clean cut.” “I import this special fertilizer from England to get a real green color.” The mind reels.

Let the weeds grow.

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